Introducing a new weekly column by Sanjeev Kotnala: Time we recalibrated UnMetro Consumer Understanding

27 Aug,2014

It’s surprising to see the lack of studies in understanding the consumer in these markets, writes Sanjeev Kotnala in a new weekly column


By Sanjeev Kotnala


I am surprised that there is still an ambiguity among Citizens of Planet ‘Media Buying and Planning’ and ‘Marketers’ about UnMetro market potential and possibilities. Because, it  silently crept in while they remained glued to their ivory tower windows with a limited view. The result: no one understands it. All they have is a scrap book filled with decades of old metro-centric planning to refer.


No doubt, there is a gap, a result of a lack of investment in understanding it. There is really no champion of its cause. One who would go beyond lip service but really push the envelope. UnMETRO, the event by the Dainik Bhaskar group, was the most visible and serious one.


This apathy towards UnMetro is unnatural. The business has shifted and to survive /grow, marketers have to tap these markets. It’s surprising to see the lack of studies in understanding the consumer in these markets. Tackling the metro consumer successfully is no guarantee of success with the streetsmart UnMetro consumer.


UnMetro is a huge market. It is the true reflection of the oft-quoted vignette of cultural-social-economic diversity, which creates differential mindset. Most of the marketers have maintained an arms length relationship with these markets. But, this will change. The punishment posting will become hard-earned chip on the shoulders. One who understands these markets will command premium.


In UnMetro,the policy of one-size-fit-all does not be work. One needs to dig in and best exploit local a medium like print, radio, OOH etc. One will have to tweak the offering in its tonality even within the state. Neither will the old understanding take you anywhere, nor will the inferences drawn on comments by internal resources work. The real UnMetro representatives within the industry migrated a long time back. Most live with a picture that is no longer valid. In fact the marketers, the media and the creative agencies must get their licence to address the UnMetro consumer renewed.


Old UnMETRO is dead. The towns that suffocated with stagnant infrastructure are gone. No longer higher studies mean compulsory migration. No longer ambitions need to be strangulated under pressure of relationship, care and family needs. Sacrificing possibilities and opportunities is a rarity and not a rule.


The hunger and desire for brands, experiences and service is not a result of untapped / unserviced built-up demand. It is the outcome of newly acquired  prosperity and a never-say-die attitude to life. The old leaders in industry saw UnMETRO as something  not critical for their success. The new guard is not so myopic.


The real literacy in UnMETRO is on a high. Parental confidence and commitments are fueling new heights of ambition and dreams. The media revolution and ease of information coupled with positive government initiatives bridging the gap. Mass media – TV and Print – rules. Radio aptly supports the new ecosystem of aggravated lifestyle needs.


It’s essential for marketers to re-evaluate their filters. Look into the opportunities with open arms and mind. Invest in understanding, so that they can recalibrate their tools to face the challenges it offers. ‘India’stands stumped while ‘Bharat- UnMetro’ is live and kicking.


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